And so it begins
Two weeks ago today I became a dad. In truth, I meant to write this post a long time ago. But between soiled diapers, sleepless nights, and paradigm shifts, I couldn’t find the time to write a concise summary of this earth-shattering event.
The labor and the delivery went with nary a hitch, I’m happy to report. A few very minor hiccups disqualified it from being described as perfect, but neither I nor my wife can really complain. I will write more about “our labor story” in future posts.
The past two weeks cannot be reduced to a single thought — or, for that matter, a single blog post. While some old mysteries were unearthed (What will my daughter look like?, How will I react to being a dad?, Will I be able to cope with dirty diapers?), others remain and yet new questions arise. I intend to address as many as I can in the near future. Fret not, dear reader.
After two weeks it still has not registered that I am father to this little infant. It is all very surreal. I can rationally accept that I am a father and her primary caretaker. But on an emotional level, I think of myself as an extended babysitter, almost waiting for her real parents to show up at the door and ask for her back. My wife feels the same way.
I won’t lie, though. On a few occasions, as I rock my daughter back to sleep at 4 am, after she calms down from yet another gastrointestine-related tantrum, I deliriously stare into those big glassy eyes, and she stares back (though probably through me rather than at me). And then I get it. She’s my flesh and blood. I am having an I-Thou moment with the same thing with whom I shared those transcendental moments a few weeks ago, albeit through the placental plane of my wife’s pregnant belly. Now, those father-daughter connections are becoming somewhat more frequent, but for the most part the past two weeks have been a sort of out-of-body experience.
And that’s one of the lingering mysteries. What does it truly feel like to be a dad and to accept it whole-heartedly? When does it finally sink in? A cousin assured me that it finally registers when your child is 18. Great.
Nevertheless, I am truly and unequivocally one happy dad. I mean this without hyperbole: These days are the happiest in my life. My wife seems to understand and even share the fact that the occasion of our marriage some years ago is only second to this. As for my daughter, she turned out to be just about the cutest baby I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Whatever doubts I had about relating to her and to loving her properly quickly dissolved. I say this with the full acceptance that this characterization must be an innate survival instinct that urges parents like me and my wife to very suddenly and very deeply care for this needy, ungrateful, wailing, bowel-moving human being.
As the dust begins to settle and I start to develop a new routine around Baby, I will post many of the thoughts and wonderments that occupy my confused brain. Some are deep ontological reflections about the essence of hipdaddery, while some are more mundane questions, posed specifically to any experienced readers out there. I am going to need all the help I can get.